What you can do when you feel like crap and your doctor tells you your thyroid is normal.
Naturopathic doctors look at your body's complete ability to function. After all, its all connected, so if one variable is deficient, chances are it will eventually cause symptoms. Typically in Ontario, we only run TSH because a) the standards are old and need to be updated, and b) it costs the government a lot of money to pay for lab tests. So if your TSH comes back normal, and its the main regulatory hormone for your thyroid, our family physicians have been trained to leave it at that. But they are not in the business of prevention.
These are the thyroid tests you can do to fully assess your thyroid function.
TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone): TSH is made in your pituitary gland in the brain, and sends a signal to the thyroid to make more of its thyroid hormones (T4 & T3). Its a general measure of overall thyroid function. As a naturopathic doctor, I have a much more narrow window of acceptability for this hormone to be deemed "okay". Our family doctors have a much wider window, which is often why you can be told your thyroid is okay, without making the correlation that your value may be showing signs of weakness.
Free T4 (Thyroxine): T4 is the most abundant thyroid hormone made by our thyroid gland. We look at "free T4" to determine how much is available or active in your body. Typically of all the T4 that is produced, only 10% becomes active or "free". The rest is bound up. We look at it in ratio with our T3, to know if its being made in the right amount.
Free T3 (Triiodothyronine): T3 is the most functional hormone from the thyroid gland, and our best marker to monitor thyroid function and your thyroid treatment, when treating hypothyroidism. T3 is the signal for our body's metabolism, energy and growth. If your T3 is low, this is when you will feel symptoms of hypothyroidism, regardless of what your T4 and TSH are doing.
Reverse T3 (RT3): This test is not commonly performed, it is typically reserved for when T3 is normal and symptoms still persist as it is very costly. This test is the inactive form of T3, typically made from T4 under stress. It prevents T3 from doing its job and can largely be the cause of symptoms if all your other lab tests values come back normal but your clinical symptoms say otherwise.
While you do have to pay out of pocket for lab tests with your naturopathic doctor, their trained eye for determining the root cause of your issue and preventative focus will save you money, time and frustration.
Yours in Health,